Social media, dating apps, and various messaging platforms have totally changed the game in terms of dating, maintaining a relationship, and what happens when things go south. Unfortunately, this also means that you can end up with more than a broken heart, especially when someone you trusted with sensitive photos of yourself suddently decides that your privacy is no longer important once you've broken up (or worse, even while you're still together).
Before we proceed, let's be clear: Every adult has the right to enjoy and express their sexuality safely and consensually. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world, and numerous people have been threatened with or victimized by nude-leaking. Also called revenge porn, nude-leaking is usually a neglected issue despite its prevalence and significance.
Moreover, non-governmental organization Sulong, "a youth- and volunteer- run organization that bridges victim-survivors of sexual violence to pro bono legal advice, psychological aid, and other services," shares that nude-leaking is an important matter because it’s a violation of both privacy and human rights.
“People don’t really talk about [nude-leaking] in terms of violation of consent between two previously consenting adults. That’s why it’s important for us to mention that it is a violation of human rights in more than one aspect,” Sulong Communications Director Bina Basilio says.
So what actions should you take if your nudes are leaked?
1. Familiarize yourself with your rights.
Bina shares there are two types of consent: implied consent and informed consent. Implied consent is informal and assumed, while informed consent is an explicit agreement between the parties involved. Bina explains that the legal definition of consent is still pretty vague, but the Safe Spaces Act considers non-consensual sharing of sexual content as gender-based online sexual harassment.
2. Contact the online platform to get the media taken down.
After you’ve educated yourself, you can start building your report by gathering documentation that supports your case. For example, you can include the name of the perpetrator or the platform in which the media were uploaded to. Bina explains that this step can be complicated because each online platform has its own policies and processes, but one website compiled these various guidelines. “Take a screenshot [and send it] to [the platform] so that they are directly told that you are hurt by their platform, and then they can correct,” she says.
3. Determine whether you’d want to press legal charges.
Bina acknowledges that filing a legal case is a difficult process, but doing so can reduce the stigma surrounding online sexual harassment. “There’s a difference between wanting to take down the file and wanting to press charges. And often the case is that they want the [pictures] taken down but they don’t want to pursue legal action because it just causes them a lot of stress,” she explains. More specifically, in cases wherein one platform contains a compilation of pictures from different women, she encourages victim-survivors to collate the evidence and report the case together.
“If more than one person speaks up, it says something about the act. Rather than if only one person speaks up, it’s so easy to derail their voice and poach them into silence. But because they have each other's support, it’s helping them move forward,” she adds.
4. Seek legal and psychological help.
For victim-survivors in need of outside aid, Sulong offers legal and psychological assistance free of charge. Bina shares that interested parties may fill out this request form, which asks about pertinent details such as when the incident happened and what specific services they want to avail. “We list down and define all these options for them so that they know there are choices,” she shares.
Overall, Bina says that being aware of this reporting process is important, but seeking out preventive long-term solutions goes a long way as well. In line with this, she encourages people to support non-governmental organizations like Sulong by volunteering for their initiatives or sharing their online publications. “I know that people often chastise us for performative activism on social media because it’s distracting them from the real work, but even so, we have to start somewhere. And just sharing and liking will increase the chances of somebody, a victim survivor, seeing that the help that they’re looking for exists,” she adds.
Most importantly, she reassures victim-survivors that they are so much more than what happened to them, and Sulong is constantly seeking out ways to best alleviate their situation. “You’re so much more than somebody who needs help or someone who needs pity, and that’s ultimately the message that [Sulong] also aims to extend. My hopes for women and other victim-survivors of gender-based violence would be that they’re offered a non-judgemental space for them to air out their grievances, share their stories, and be responded to in a very sensitive, actionable way,” she says.